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Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion
December 20th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion

By Dan Merica, CNN
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Washington (CNN) – The Christmas season is revealing a growing rift among American atheists when it comes to the question of how to deal with religion.

Some atheist activists are trying to seize the holidays as a time to build bridges with faith groups, while other active unbelievers increasingly see Christmas as a central front in the war on religious faith. With the dramatic growth of the nonreligious in the last few decades, more atheist leaders are emerging as spokespeople for atheism, but the Christmas rift speaks to growing disagreement over how atheists should treat religion.

On the religion-bashing side, there’s David Silverman, president of the group American Atheists, which raised one of its provocative trademark billboards in New York’s Times Square last week. “Keep the MERRY!” it says. “Dump the MYTH!”
The sign features a picture of a jolly Santa Clause and another of Jesus dying on the cross – a not-so-subtle attack on Christianity.

“Christianity stole Christmas in the first place and they don’t own the season, they don’t own the Christmas season,” Silverman said, pointing to pagan winter solstice celebrations that predated Jesus Christ. “When they say keep Christ in Christmas, they are actually saying put Christ back in Christmas.”

The New York billboard, which will be up until early January and is costing the group at least $25,000, is the latest in a long line of provocative American Atheists signs, which attacked then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s religion during this year’s presidential campaign.

It’s not the only way Silverman is using Christmas to attack Christianity. In a recent TV interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, he said the American Atheist office be open on Christmas Day and called for an end to Christmas as a federal holiday.

O’Reilly, in turn, called Silverman a fascist.

Despite Silverman’s knack for making headlines, however, other prominent atheists are putting a softer face on the movement, including during Christmastime.

“I just think the whole war on Christmas story is bizarre” said Greg Epstein, the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, who has emerged as another spokesman for the burgeoning atheist movement. “I think that any atheist or humanist that is participating in that story needs to find better things to do with their time.”

From his point of view, atheism and religion can happily coexist, including at the holidays.

At the chaplaincy, Epstein has reached out to local religious groups, packaging holiday meals and breaking bread with believers to discuss their similarities and differences.

Sponsored by the Humanist Community at Harvard, evangelical Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Zoroastrians, along with a number of atheists, were among those represented at a recent meal packaging event for hungry kids in the Boston area. Around 250 people participated and over $10,000 was raised – including donations from local Lutheran and Methodist churches.
Epstein calls this sort of inter-religious dialogue “healthy.”

“We as a community need to be about the positive and we have so much positive to offer,” he said. “I think that we really can provide a positive alternative to religious holidays that are not meaningful because of their religious content.”
Silverman, for his part, is more than comfortable being negative when it comes to religion.

“We should look at the results - people are listening to us because we are shouting,” he said. “They don’t hear you unless you shout. … Sometimes you have to put political correctness aside. We need to get louder. I believe we are seeing the fruits of that volume.”

As proof, American Atheists points to the way their donations skyrocket after every billboard campaign. “We get donations and memberships because we are taking the stand that we do,” said Silverman, who would not give specific numbers on fundraising. “The donations are flowing in right now. People are loving it specifically because of the billboard.”

Epstein would rather see more emphasis on volunteerism, though he acknowledges that some atheists are drawn to Silverman’s vocal model. Both men said they appeal to different parts of the atheist movement.

“We are GOP and Dem, man and women, black and white – the only thing that holds us together is atheism,” Silverman said. “A movement like ours needs all sides. It needs people who are working to be conciliatory and it needs people who are willing to raise their voices.”

Religious “nones” – a combination of atheists, agnostics and the religiously unaffiliated, have been growing their ranks in recent years. According to a Pew Research study released this year, the fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all as one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.

The survey found that the unaffiliated are growing even faster among younger Americans. According to the poll, 34% of “younger millennials” - those born between 1990 and 1994 - are religiously unaffiliated.

Though not monolithic, younger atheists, according to Jesse Galef, communications director of the Secular Student Alliance, are more prone to celebrate a secular version of Christmas than to ignore the holiday.

“I am very much in favor of celebrating the secular Christmas,” Galef said. “It is a celebration of the spirit of giving and I think religious divisiveness goes against that effort.”

Other atheists celebrate Festivus, a December 23 holiday meant for atheists looking to celebrate during the winter without participating in a Christian holiday. The holiday, which entered into popular culture through the television show “Seinfeld” in 1997, has gained popularity in recent years.

At the Secular Student Alliance office in Columbus, Ohio, the staff will play Secret Sagan, a nod to the famed scientist, instead of Secret Santa. And instead of Christmas decorations, they put up a Winter Solstice Tree with ornaments from the movie “When the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

“We celebrate the holiday season, just not the religious holiday,” Galef said.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Christmas

soundoff (4,367 Responses)
  1. Bible Clown©

    "a picture of a jolly Santa Clause and another of Jesus dying on the cross – a not-so-subtle attack on Christianity."

    Clause? Pretty subtle attack on Santa there.

    December 21, 2012 at 7:57 am |
  2. Ken

    Atheist Activists are almost as bad as Islamist Jihadists. Really it's true. While many Atheists simply say "they don't believe in God" and move on, the activists have this obesssive need to push their belief system onto others. They see the world as "I don' believe in God, anything relating to your belief insults me, you shouldn't believe in God anyway, so I will do everything I can to destroy it". They have developed a belief system, a faith if you will, that is just as organized in their minds as any religon. And they have a strong need or desire to spread that belief, to convert those to their belief. Basically they do have a religon, a religon with no God, and they persue that religon with a fanatic like conviction.

    December 21, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      Ken, you should look up the definition of religion. Learn what words mean before you use them.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  3. creative36

    I am offended by christmas. And I am offended by christians. There is a strong and growing movement to push religions on the fringe of society.

    December 21, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • Derek

      Get over yourself!

      December 21, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " I am offended by christians. There is a strong and growing movement to push religions on the fringe of society."

      Most Christians are fine people. There's a group of them that are as crazy as the Taliban. I don't care what they believe as long as they can resist the temptation to legislate stuff that they even admit is hypothetical. Maybe God exists and is offended by people shopping on Sunday, and maybe not. Why can't we shop and you Christians just stay home that day?

      December 21, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  4. scientificpoetry

    Just celebrate December 25 as Isaac Newton's birthday (which it is...). He did more for the furtherment of mankind than a myth from the middle east. WIthout his mathematical discoveries (namely calculus) modern society would not exisit. And the best part about it, we KNOW that he existed...

    December 21, 2012 at 7:52 am |
  5. aktap

    In this house, first there came That darn Jewish girl, then the kid from that odd ball Christian group yuck! Then we added a moslem daughter-n-law then a moslem son-n-law to our nest. yet it really hasn't taken all that long for my family to give up on most of religion. Now We just call the holidays the Thanks-Mass season. We try to party and open gifts when ever we all can get together, not on some made up holy day. Our holidays are no longer about God, but family! wonder what our great grandkids well believe in, some how I don't think it well be in a jealous God! who hate's the week and sinful, I'm hoping that in the future of our family's faith? God well be more like a good little league Dad! A God who tells you he love's you and your doing great, even if He knows you've already lost the game. He's just planning on practicing harder with you before you have to play next time. And don't worrie He won't forget that ice cream cone. after all, it was only a game and he loves you!

    December 21, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      I just threw up a little in my mouth.

      December 21, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  6. Sane Person

    To be a Christian you first must believe that you are inherently evil or guilty of something which you need to be saved from. I don't feel bad enough about myself to be a Christian 🙂

    December 21, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  7. Reality

    "And the day will come,
    when the mystical generation of Jesus,
    by the Supreme Being as His Father,
    in the womb of a virgin,
    will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva"

    – Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
    Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

    December 21, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • VΞΠDΞTTΛ

      Thank you.

      X-mas is the new name

      Happy Holiday is the new slogan

      Say Christmas and be shunned

      December 21, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  8. Yeyo

    Why atheists and extremist muslims hate Christmas so much?

    December 21, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • Not a Theist

      It might have something to do with 2000+ years of oppression (speaking on behalf of atheists at least).
      But I don't hate theists, I just think they're wrong.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • Brett

      Because they try to legislate morality.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • sam stone

      because christians attempt to codify their faith in our secular laws, denying people of their civil rights. because christians continue to blather on empty proxy threats about what their vindictive pr1ck god is going to do to us after death. because they are self-righteous and pompous. enough for you? j i could go on. but, i think you get the drift

      December 21, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • John

      I'm not christian or atheist. There's a butt-load of stereotypes going down on this thread.... such tawdry bitterness.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Why, and this is important, do you hate atheists? Not only can you not 'go to heaven' if you hate people, but what did we ever do to you? I bet if you were ever cheated, it was by Christians, if you were ever robbed, it was by Christians. Prisons are full of Christians. And yet you gotta pick on me and blame me? Happy holidays or whatever to you.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  9. Johnny D

    Silverman...guy couldn't make it as a jew so he becomes atheist and an attention ho.

    December 21, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  10. Courtney

    I'm an atheist and my boyfriend is agnostic, yet we do christmas (okay I do it and he begrudgingly plays along). For me it has nothing to do with christ nor has it ever; when I was a kid it was all about santa, christmas trees, snowmen, gifts, reindeer, family coming over for dinner, etc and nothing to do with church or religious observation. The holiday as we know it has been pieced together from various celebrations christian, pagan, and secular. I think it's a great way to cheer up the gloom of winter and spend time with friends and family, so I'm keeping the tradition going for my kids even though we're raising them nonreligious. As for the atheists waging war, I get it because I used to feel that way. But seriously I don't think it's really worth it; there are much bigger fish to fry like the WBC. Add christ to your christmas or don't.

    December 21, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • lol??

      How traditional.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  11. 2357

    Christ was born to die young after suffering poverty, humiliation and Roman torture. He bled to death, gasping for air on a filthy stake. He will return from the spirit realm and sweep much of humanity into God's furnace.

    Do you really think this Creator God almighty YHWH gives a rat's a s s whether or not people "celebrate" the birthday of kindercrist, the "little baby jesus" of pagan Europe?

    I'm with Ollie Cromwell on the Romish holiday. Ban the defiled celebration. Or give it to the dogs.

    December 21, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Actually

      Ban it? And ban what other celebrations? I'm for freedom of religion and freedom from oppression. Let people celebrate whatever and however they want as long as they are not hurting others. Good grief, how does Christmas hurt anyone?

      December 21, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • lol??

      Miss Venezuela for President!

      December 21, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • doughnuts

      Sorry, but he was never born, never died, and certainly isn't coming back. The character "Jesus" was created out of Jewish messianic theology, Mithra, Horus, and bits of a half-dozen other mythologies.

      You don't believe in thousands of gods that people have worshipped all over the world. I just addeed yours to the same list.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • Reality

      So where are the bones"?

      As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • John

      2357 is such a bitter troll.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • 2357

      The abolition of Christmas would be a great start in purging the church of Jesus Christ of pagan influence. If would benefit most the purity of the church, and it would be a step forward in reclaiming the integrity of the gospel. A pagan government that executes Christians would further purify the bride of the Lamb. Then will come the end of history. Come, Lord Jesus. Take vengeance on the fallen sons of Adam who love sin and hate your reign.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Sorry, but he was never born, never died, and certainly isn't coming back. The character "Jesus" was created out of Jewish messianic theology, Mithra, Horus, and bits of a half-dozen other mythologies."
      Sorry to burst your bubble, but Rabbi Yeshua bin Yusuf was probably a real person and probably a heck of a good man. He may have even said most of the wise things associated with his name. Certainly his was the first religion to come right out and say that the individual is also valued by God. But so many myths have been attached to him, including much that was once Mithran (son of god born Dec 25 to lead good souls against the devil at world's end) that it's hard to know.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  12. editoroftheworld

    This post needed another proofreading! "[T]he American Atheist office be open on Christmas Day" ... and the movie is "How [not When] the Grinch Stole Christmas."

    December 21, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • holiday

      all about Santa, huh?

      December 21, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  13. lol??

    To the Jews who hated Jesus, "Jhn 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?"...So haters are gods, eh? HHHmmm.

    December 21, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • holiday

      the christian Hitler and Nazi's

      December 21, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  14. Xmas

    A very profitable marketing ploy. The RCC in partcular know how to attract cash flow, much of their donations come in on the high holidays, The reason priests were forced into a celibate life was to protecet the wealth of the church. The RCC also removed the 2nd commandment from their version of the bible because the found they could make a good buck by selling jesus on a stick to the sheepies. Religions are a scam, all of them.

    December 21, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • holiday

      and the catholic church celebrates children by covering up the destroyed lives of those abused. A sick cult and people follow it.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "selling jesus on a stick to the sheepies. Religions are a scam, all of them."

      That's an oversimplification. Most people aren't up for existentialism, and that's where unbelief is going to take you. The certain knowledge that when you die, the electrical charges that run your brain and memory are wiped like an old floppy disk isn't for everyone. Most people need comfort instead of harsh reality so they can get up and go to work instead of sticking their heads in the oven. You can't snap at them for being 'sheeple' without admitting that they are sheeple. You got a cure for sheepleheadedness in your back pocket? Religion is proven to give sheeple a purposeful, happy life, even if it's a sham. Dumping these people out in the cold, philosophically speaking, is murder.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  15. holiday

    Happy baby Santa birthday.. There is a Santa in everyone around Christmas time. Santa gives without hating..

    December 21, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • OK

      "Santa gives without hating.."

      So what about the naughty list?

      December 21, 2012 at 7:37 am |
  16. Creation Man

    I feel for all the athiest's kids, no Christmas presents? What a sad existence, always angry at the believers who have hope of eternal life, I would never trade my hope for their anger.

    December 21, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • holiday

      Why? It's baby santa's birthday. That's a happy time for kids.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Sane Person

      I'm an atheist, I love Christmas and I am in no way angry. Also, I don't need hope for an afterlife because I actually enjoy this life very much. 🙂

      December 21, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Sane Person

      I'm an atheist, I love Christmas and I am in no way angry. Also, I don't need hope for an afterlife because I enjoy this life. 🙂

      December 21, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Not a Theist

      My family was none religious for my entire life, yet we used christmas as an excuse to give gifts and enjoy each other's company. We still do to this day, and you religion is not mentioned or considered in any way.
      Are you going to tell me I'm not allowed to do that?

      December 21, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • holiday

      the believers have to deny the truth or accept the fact their god was man made,, called mental blocking built on FEAR of DEATH..

      December 21, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • sam stone

      gosh, creation man, you must not know any atheists personally. if you did, you would realize that what you just posted was a steaming pile of dung. atheists do give gifts to their kids at christmas. we just treat it like a secular holiday. as far as angry, True Believers (TM) keep on blathering empty proxy threats of what will befall non-believers. They use this faith to deny other their civil rights. i have plenty of friends and family who are christian. i have no issue with them. we simply do not discuss religion. as far as eternal life goes, do you seriously desire to be alive FOREVER? you undoubtedly know people who are not "saved" (interesting that the pious desire eternity with a being from whom they feel they need to be saved (spiritual stockholm syndrome, i guess)). they may be fine, upstanding, decent people. are you comfortable with the idea of them being tortured forever? are you comfortable with the vindictive petty pr1ck who would sentence people to this torture?

      December 21, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Courtney

      Most people I know are atheist, agnostic, humanist or otherwise nonreligious but I don't know a single person who is angry at the faithful for their hope. Or whatever. Where did you come up with this theory?

      December 21, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • Huh?

      "What a sad existence, always angry at the believers "

      Always angry at believers? Why do you project anger into others you don't know? Why do you read anger into what is written? I for one, am not angry at all, it would take a lot to get me angry because it's just not my nature. What I have is disgust that there are still so many gullible people out there.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • cecil

      I much prefer my acceptance of death over your illusion of eternal life.

      December 21, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "What a sad existence, always angry at the believers" You're a liar and a disgrace to the Israelite you claim to love. You know nothing about my home life or that of any other unbeliever, yet you are pleased to spew some lies in the hope of making my life more uncomfortable. I bet there are more presents under my xmas tree than there are under yours, and probably more love in my marriage and happy home than in your whole shabby little church.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  17. Rational Humanist

    Religion is geared towards taking advantage of our instinctual reactions in many ways, one of which is the emotional need, as seen in other primates, to form emotional bonds that also have the effect of focusing one's attention towards cognitive development in relation to our environment.
    For example, babies form emotional attachment to caregivers, and this can, in part, be viewed as forming mental paths that deal with cognitive focus that can lead to eventual group-identlties the child will identify with over time as it grows socially and mentally.
    Religion warps this most easily in the ignorant and thus children are the easiest to brainwash. It is child abuse plain and simple...to warp a child's understanding of their environment until a firm schizophrenic delusion is established by unscrupulous and often delusional people...in violation of the child's civil and human rights.

    And this is reinforced by the instinctual need to form social relationships and by such things as trying to have a social relationship with one's environment as an additional "caregiver" type of focus. This schizophrenic focus could be characterized by a deity (anthropomorphic bias / delusion) that is also a "creator" (anthropomorphic again), as well as the need to give a personal sense of the attachment (child's relationship towards father-teacher-parent-caregiver type of figure) as well as the often seen "confirmation bias" that can be used to reinforce the brainwashing to the point of psychosis, as we see in religious fundamentalist extremists.

    Children need the very best mental health as they are growing up – brainwashing is not healthy for a person's mental health regardless of age. The clearer a child can think, the better they can learn and grow in a healthy way.
    Religion causes child abuse. At the very least the indoctrination itself is a horrific crime against children and humanity.
    It has such a large effect on people because of the way our brains are wired, not because of anything "supernatural" or "magic."

    December 21, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • AmtheystApple

      If religion was first created by human beings to control and manipulate the masses, by providing an anecdote for their emotional and social needs, then doesn't it follow that in the absence of religion human beings will just create another "anecdote"? If we are to follow the logical conclusion, wouldn't it still remain that human beings are the "problem" to begin with? Atheists will state that religion was created by those who wish to control others, but no one ever questions why human beings feel the need to control and manipulate in the first place, or why human beings even have emotional or social needs. And if religion is intended to fill the void for this need (as you mentioned in the above comment), then what exactly is it that one hopes to accomplish by removing religion from society? What would it be replaced with that would satisfy those needs? And wouldn't the replacement simply mirror the practice of religion in the first place? After all, isn't this why many Atheist groups have now decided to hold weekly "meetings" of their own?

      At the end of the day human beings have a desire to believe the impossible. Hollywood is evidence of that as it has made billions telling people stories about the impossible: One man that can step away unscathed in a fight against 25 other men, a woman who finds (and still recognizes) her long lost love after 50 years because they happen to end up at the same cafe, the man who cuts the correct wire within a millisecond of a bomb exploding...People don't actually believe these stories, however for some reason, these stories resonate with them and is a formula that has been working for years.

      So what, atheists say religion is illogical, but how do they propose to eliminate the illogical desire of the human heart to believe and have faith in things that seem impossible?

      December 21, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      I think you missed something there. The "human heart" pumps blood and does little else. Humans do NOT have a "desire for belief", they develop their cognitive associations according to instinctual, animalistic needs because we are social animals who nevertheless are extremely susceptible to schizophrenia and other types of mental illness.
      Religion IS a stylized form of mental illness. Replacing it with rationality and good mental health is bad how??????
      People have healthy relationships of all sorts without religion. There is NOTHING TO REPLACE.

      December 21, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      Let me clarify that last point. You are claiming that we have a desire to be sick and that the sickness must be replaced because you cannot conceive or entertain the fact that there is no need to replace one sickness with another.
      The rational way to go would be to HEAL or PREVENT the sickness and not replace it should it be eradicated.

      You desire sickness because it is all you know. You are in a very deep mental rut of schizophrenia. Having loving relationships does not require schizophrenia as a prerequisite. There is nothing worth replacing.

      December 21, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • AmtheystApple

      So are you saying that teaching people to believe in that which may seem impossible is or has been bad for individuals or society? If people believed only beyond what has been proven or what has been made evident by science, wouldn't that also stifle human progress? Human creativity?

      Also, I don't believe that human desire or emotion is manufactured by a schizophrenic mind, but I do believe it causes people to act in schizophrenic ways. And I don't believe people have to be taught or learn to feel emotions of jealousy, anger or fear but are born with the ability to feel those emotions, the only thing people are not born with is an ability to translate the way events that occur around them will effect their person. So if people are born with an inability to control the existence of those emotions, how would a society go about eliminating them if that society does not believe such desires or emotions exist at birth?

      You claim that by "HEALING" and "PREVENTING" the sickness there would be no need to replace religion with anything, but the problem is if people are born with these emotional defaults, there's gonna be a lot of healing and preventing on a regular basis, and by what means do you propose this healing is administered? weekly meetings in a school? regular talks with a psychologist? Again, if this is the case, it would start to mirror religion pretty closely.

      December 21, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      One, you are using a definition for the word "religion" that does not exist.
      Two, a loving upbringing does not require schizophrenia to happen before the positive social interaction can take place.

      You keep assuming things that are not true and have no basis in reality. Children are born with DNA that determines, along with a great many other variables, what sort of brain tissue it will begin life with after being born and how it is likely to function and how healthy the rest of the body is going to be as well.
      Most babies are born with the capacity for further development, and this can be enhanced along certain lines, biochemically, by environmental factors of all sorts, including chemical, biological, nuclear, toxic and other potentially damaging ones.
      But that's not enough for you. No. On top of all the obstructions, hurdles, dangers, and damage a child receives from their environment, you want to add schizophrenia that obstructs them from relating and understanding and interacting with the world around them in a rational and realistic way.
      And you just can't wrap your head around the fact that love, etc, is something even ignorant babies can do. They have no concept of a god because no god exists for them to "feel". Babies are always effortlessly building cognitive paths based upon sensory input. They go from random arm-waving to crawling as a natural progression of evolutionary characteristics in brain development. They grow in thinking itself. They form abstracts and make mental connections between disparate events and sensory input. They process information quite well.....unless they are traumatized or otherwise harmed or damaged.
      Giving them reaction-patterns and cognitive response-patterns that do not work in relation to the real world is nothing less than CHILD ABUSE, and those children are quite literally going to suffer the effects their whole lives.
      And they won't be able to deal with reality very well but will refuse to face reality if it does not conform to their schizoid fantasy-world, like you are doing.
      Having warm, loving relationships with other people simply doesn't require a fairy-tale to be part of the deal.
      All humans have emotions. You can foster good emotional development or you can twist it into a nightmare of psychosis.
      Children have rights that are always denied and violated by most adults. You reap what you sow – just like that shooting in Connecticut. On the one hand, the shooter suffered major damage as a child as well as having a genetic factor that would have obtained in his individual case. Society failed him because we are only primates, not computers that always work logically.
      Emotions, while necessary in some ways, can arise without any rational reason and rarely make any kind of logical sense.
      People who suffer from depression have imbalances in their brain chemicals that do not act in accordance with any of the thoughts that person may have. Emotions "blind" people to what is right, correct, sensible, rational, etc.

      Blinded by emotion is what made that guy pull the trigger. You really want to go there?

      December 21, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • AmtheystApple

      No, I don't want to get into the Connecticut school shooting, I don't know much about the shooter but it's a sad situation for all involved. I will also admit that I don't know much about cognitive development in children, however i do believe your comment about emotions:

      "Emotions "blind" people to what is right, correct, sensible, rational, etc."

      This is what I've basically been trying to say. How can science and rationale be a replacement for religion when human beings are so easily blinded by their own emotions – something that requires no rationale or reason for it to be valid for the person experiencing it. I get what you're saying when you say that religion shouldn't be replaced by anything because you believe religion is irrational, made up and not based on facts to begin with. But all I'm saying, is that knowing what we both know about human emotions, how does one aim to free people of irrational belief systems when the human mind or emotion is capable of creating or finding another irrational belief system to follow? The only way to achieve something like this would require a steady and continual instruction to eliminate irrational thought or emotions, and this sounds just as much like an indoctrination on how to think and behave as religion.

      Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with science as it has been extremely beneficial towards improving the lives of people all over the world, I'm not trying to take that away from the scientific community. However I don't think it can offer a plan to save humanity when emotions are capable of obstructing the bigger picture or the rational picture as often offered by science/rationale.

      And what happens when someone writes a story or fairytale that doesn't fall in line with the idea of rational thinking, do these authors, these creators suddenly become a danger to the minds of the public? Or would a completely rational society even be able to create stories ,like the wizard of oz or harry potter, as anything outside of rational scientific thought would be considered too ridiculous for the public to accept?

      December 21, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "And what happens when someone writes a story or fairytale that doesn't fall in line with the idea of rational thinking, do these authors, these creators suddenly become a danger to the minds of the public?"
      Have you any idea how many authors have been killed or imprisoned for their words? This country is famous for book burning and censorship. Heck, we are afraid of comic books.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  18. The fact of the matter

    "“Christianity stole Christmas in the first place... " Really? From whom did they "steal" Christmas? This Silverman guy is not only ignorant, but delusional, as are most atheists.

    December 21, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • Mirosal

      You've never heard of of the Roman festival Saturnalia? Look it up, it should be pretty clear to you then.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • Primewonk

      The end of December / Winter Solstice was celebrated by numerous pagan groups. A main one was Saturnalia – celebration g the god Saturn. Your Jesus, if he existed, was most certainly not born on December 25. There were no census/tax gatherings in Bethlehem at this time.

      Additionally, there are numerous other savior gods who were born of a virgin, had disciples, traveled and did miracles, and were sacrificed. Your Jesus, if he existed, was certainly not original.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • Not a Theist

      Wow, where to begin..
      Yuletide carols were taken from Yule, the Scandinavian fertility god.
      Wreaths or decking the halls with holly was taken from Wicca.
      Mistletoe was taken from the Druids.
      Christmas trees were taken from the god Saturn (Saturnalia tree).
      Thor, Odin and St Nicholas traditionally brought gifts in the night.
      Sleipnir (Odin's flying 8 legged horse is responsible for listening for the sounds of hooves on your roof top.
      Mithras was responsible for celebrating the sun's rebirth on December 25.
      Did I miss anything?

      December 21, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • Not a Theist

      Oh yea, the Yule Log lol

      December 21, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • Andy

      Actually, many societies across the world enjoyed Winter Solstice celebrations at the exact time as Christmas. For many religions pre-dating Christianity, this was the time of "New Year" so to speak. So there's only one person ignorant here. And it isn't the writer.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • caw

      You really are clueless aren't you? Do a little religious investigation and you'll find things like this.

      ' In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast.'

      But what about Christ? Well that comes a bit later

      'In 350, Pope Julius I declared that Christ's birth would be celebrated on December 25. There is little doubt that he was trying to make it as painless as possible for pagan Romans (who remained a majority at that time) to convert to Christianity. '

      So basically you're celebrating a pagan festival on the 25th that the Roman Church hijacked into Christianity.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  19. Not a Theist

    To all you religious types that are sick of hearing about people's non belief:
    Get used to it.
    Atheists are not going anywhere, we're growing, and we have as much right to voice out disbelief as you have to voice your belief.
    Every time someone stands up and declares they believe in sky daddy, someone will stand up and say they do not believe.
    This is going to happen more and more often, so deal with it.
    You cannot torture us to death anymore, well, at least not in civilized countries.

    December 21, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • The fact of the matter

      "Atheists are not going anywhere... " Really? I beg to differ. They have a reservation in the hot place unless they come to their senses.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • Not a Theist

      When all else fails, threaten with eternal torture.
      You see, the thing that scares me most, is not that you believe that I will be tortured for eternity, it's the fact that you WANT me to be tortured for eternity.
      What kind of person does that make you?

      December 21, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Mirosal

      We do say we don't believe, but we are also saying to those who procialm their "god" at max volume.. simply show us your "god". That's it, plain and simple. But, since they cannot do that, their only defense is to quote from a 2000 year old book filled with 3000 year old stores that no one can back up and verify. Just a big book of hearsay, and that's why it isn't considered as evidence by any means of the word. It isn't evidence because you cannot verify its source.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Primewonk

      " They have a reservation in the hot place unless they come to their senses."

      I was planning on visiting my buddy in Vegas this summer. Should I cancel my flight?

      December 21, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Let It Be

      Torture you? LOL! I love the drama.... You better look around at your civilized countries. A place that is godless is just that godless. I think it's terrible that your attacks focus on Christianity. A horrible bunch of people they are. Teaching their children not to steal, do drugs, or murder. Thanks to people like you, this country is beginning to truly reap what it sows. We are becoming a nation of greedy, self-loving, know-it-alls.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • Andy

      To suggest that one cannot teach their children not to lie, cheat, steal, etc is to insist that this "god" or this "allah" or this "holy thing in the sky" as the corner market on morality. Morality was there long before religion; man as an animal species developed over time a complex brain from which societal norms were established. Religion was invented by man via mythology to reinforce those norms.

      You, my friend, really need to go read up on Humanism.
      Thanks for playing.

      December 22, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  20. 2357

    Christ was born to die young after suffering poverty, humiliation and Roman torture. He bled to death, gasping for air on a filthy stake. He ill return from the spirit realm and sweep much of humanity into the eternal vengeance of God.

    Do you really think this Creator God almighty YHWH gives a rat's a s s whether or not people "celebrate" the birthday of kindercrist, the "little baby jesus" of pagan Europe?

    I'm with Ollie Cromwell on the Romish holiday. Ban the defiled celebration. Or give it to the dogs.

    December 21, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • The fact of the matter

      Are we bitter yet? You have a merry "Chirst"mas now.

      December 21, 2012 at 7:20 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.